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How Much Does a Boat Lift Cost? – Finding the Right One

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

how much does a boat lift cost

Boats are investments. There is a lot to spend on From the vessel to the maintenance to the boat lift. So, you need to make sure you are knowledgeable to avoid overpaying. On top of knowing the boat you want, you may have asked, “How much does a boat lift cost?”

A boat lift can cost between $1,500 to over $15,000. It depends on your boat’s weight, power use, water situation, and add-on service features.

The heavier the ship is, the sturdier your lift should be. This is why you should also evaluate the material and carrying capacity of the lift.

Overview of Different Types of Boat Lifts

Type of Boat Lift Description Cost of a Boat Lift
Cantilever Boat Lift Fit for shallow waters and permanent docks but has few moving parts $1,500 to $3,500
4 post-Boat Lift Fit for lakes and rivers; and to new boat owners $5,750 on average
Vertical Boat Lift Electric-powered and easy to maneuver $6,000 to $20,000
Hydraulic Boat Lift Fit for medium to heavy-sized boats, can work with different bodies of water $11,500 as the average cost
Pile Mount Boat Lift Sturdy for any water level and stable enough for bigger boats $8,000 and above
Floating Boat Lift Fit for erratic water levels $12,000 and above
Suspended Boat Lift This platform boat lift cost is expensive; can include add-ons like an elevator boat lift $20,000 (depending on the features)

Considering the Boat’s Weight


The most suitable boat lift relies primarily on the weight of your boat. Some models can range from 1,000 to 12,000 lb.

If your boat is around 16,000 lb or even 20,000 lb, you should get an elevator boat lift.

Similar to how a forklift works, it is mounted to a dock or the wall of a boathouse. This makes it sturdy and stable enough to lift heavy boats. Typically, it is made from aluminum. So, it won’t rust easily.

Additionally, measuring the length of the boat matters. The beam is the widest part so the lift should be able to accommodate it. A four-inch cushion or distance is recommended on all sides, ensuring that your boat fits. That is why, for instance, a boat lift for a 21 ft boat (2,227 lb to 3,344 lb) can be Cantilever or a 4-post Boat Lift.

Knowing the Suitable Boat Lift for You


Apart from the boat’s weight, you have to know the lifts available in the market.

For example, there are 5,000 lb boat lifts, 40,000 lb boat lifts, and 50,000 lb boat lifts. The carrying capacity of the lift is crucial to ensure it can support your boat and protect it from harsh waters.

An example is a Floating Boat. A Floating Boat Lift’s price is around $8,000. It works well in deep waters–a boat lift for a dock. It is also more affordable than other types.

Another example is Hydraulic or Elevator Lift. These types of lifts provide convenience in transporting heavier boats. Hydraulic, for instance, is a 10,000 lb boat lift.

There are brands you can also check out. These include HydroHoist Boat Lift (a premier brand of floating boat lifts), Shorestation Boat Lift (a brand for waterfront equipment, lake accessories, and repair parts), and Sunstream Boat Lift (a pioneer of hydraulic, solar, and other remote-controlled lifts).

Boat Lift Installation Costs

Depending on where you plan to purchase, some companies exclude the cost to install a boat lift. You may pay between $550 to $1,100. After all, boats need manpower and equipment to move like a railway.

You should note that the length of the railway and its roller sizes may affect the installation costs. You may need to shell out $1,550 to $3,550 for this.

Other Costs


Some boat owners like to purchase features for their boat lifts. Some add-ons are necessary, especially if your boathouse has limited space or the water levels are erratic. Naturally, you want to prevent damage to your boat even when it is docked.

Here are some features you may want to purchase:

  • Motor stop – similar to cars, it helps your boat ‘park’ without accidentally moving out of the lift
  • Carpeted bunks – provide support to ease the boat while in transit on the trailer
  • Boat lift canopy – protects the boat from harsh UV rays and wind damage; a boat lift canopy costs around $600 to $1,200
  • Pontoon stabilizer bar – connects the left and right sides of the front and rear wheels, to make the lift overall stable
  • Pontoon rack kit – as a pontoon boat lift is larger than a standard one, the lift has two bunk boards than a single set

Like your boat, boat lifts require maintenance. If you are not diligent, you may spend more on repair costs. It gets worse if you don’t keep the habit of checking your lift even after the first repair.

Tips for Saving Costs

As boats are expensive, you want to learn ways to avoid additional costs, especially after purchasing a boat lift.

1. Determine the boat’s characteristics


A good way to save money is to thoroughly check the characteristics of your boat before purchasing a boat lift. Those include the weight, the length of the waterline, the rigging, design specifications, and other parts.

You can find this information in the boat operator’s manual. If you are still uncertain, you may also check in with where you purchased the boat.

2. Purchase used boat lifts


If you want cheap boat lifts, go for the used ones that are in good condition. These are generally affordable from third-party boat dealers than buying from manufacturers. You can find lifts online, from a local retailer, or from other boat dealers.

3. Proper maintenance

You have to periodically check the bolts, nuts, and other parts. You have to check if they are still intact. Lubricate mobile parts as well to ensure they are in good, working condition.

Cables and wires are prone to cuts and cracks. So, you must check these as they may be dangerous, especially when open or live wires come into contact with water. You also need to clean them regularly. Marine deposits tend to build up. Salt crystals can damage or deteriorate the affected parts of your boat lift.

4. Careful maneuvering


When moving the boat, avoid additional stress or pressure on the lift. No person should be on the water vessel while lifting it. The unnecessary weight and movement can make the lift difficult.

Doing all these preventive measures is helpful not only in caring for your boat lift but in avoiding costly repairs as well.


If you are a first-time boat owner, you may have looked up, “How much does a boat lift cost?” A quick search gives you varying answers. But the average ranges between $1,500 to $20,000. It all depends on the characteristics of your boat which should match the carrying capacity of the boat lift.

To avoid unnecessary costs, make sure to research and consult with a boat dealer or expert. This helps you prevent purchasing an unsuitable lift and spending too much on repair expenses if you don’t do proper maintenance.

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